When I was a student, I had a problem staying awake in class. I felt bad and teachers were mad. Today, as a teacher myself, I discovered the blame was misplaced. I was sleeping because of boring lesson delivery. When I teach a class or an auditorium with hundreds, there is never any sleeping going on because I have an interactive and engaging delivery. Whether delivering a lesson to school children or providing professional development to adults, in today’s fast-paced, digital world, your audience deserves to have an interactive presentation where they are engaged.
Incorporate some of the strategies below and leave behind the days of sit and git lectures or presentations.
1) Polling with Cel.ly
Use a free platform like Cel.ly to poll your audience. This is a great way to get a reaction to something folks might not feel comfortable raising their hand for publicly or it can be a good way to determine if your audience is knowledgeable about a topic. It’s also a great “choose your own adventure” technique. Ask your audience what they are more interested in and discuss that.
2) Peer instruction
I LOVE this and have used it with audiences of hundreds to have the room teach the room. Here’s how it works. Pose a question to the audience to figure out. You might want to show a video and pose a question, have them think about a passage they have read or have them respond to a real world experience. Ask the audience to raise put fingers up corresponding to the answer i.e. 1 finger for the first answer, 2 for the second, 3 for third. Or thumbs up true, thumbs down false. Next ask them to find someone with a different answer and try to change the other person’s mind or be convinced of the answer so that both people have agreed on the answer. When you vote again, you’ll find many more people have moved toward an answer. Do this one more time. Usually by the third time, the room will agree and peers will have taught one another. You can read more about this technique created by Harvard Professor Eric Mazur here.
3) Word Clouds with Poll Everywhere
Poll Everywhere isn’t just for polling. As explained in the Free Tech for Teachers blog, Poll Everywhere has a cool feature that enables you to create word clouds by integrating Wordle, Tagxedo, and Tagul. To use this feature just create an open-ended response poll as you normally would. Then in your administrative panel select "word cloud" on the right hand side of the screen. From there you will be given the option to pick your favorite word cloud service.
I’ve used this as a visually pleasing ways to collect responses to questions like, “What is your favorite social media platform” or “Share something you are passionate about” or “Who is your favorite author.”
3) Selfie Collage and Albums with Flickr
Set up a Flickr account for participants to contribute photos or videos. The collage below was made when museum editors took selfies like their favorite artwork. A fun follow up activity would be for students to identify what artworks were represented.
View the slideshow below in full screen and select “Show Info” from the top right. This was a group of librarians sharing their favorite book.
There are so many possibilities for engaging with Flickr. Find out how to do that here.
4) Turn and talk with Random Number Generator and Stopwatch
I love to tell stories and have those in attendance guess what happened next. I do this often in my talks about individuals actions on social media i.e. What do you think happened to the teacher who called in sick yet posted pictures from vacation on Instagram? or What do you think happened to the teacher who wrote insulting Tweets about an administrator?
When I have students turn and talk, my favorite timer is Classtools because it has a library of music themes (i.e. Indiana Jones, Mission Impossible) that play when time is almost up. Once time is up, I use a random number generator to have some contribute what they discussed. If possible I have a few give-aways for those who contribute.
5) Don’t just watch video. Frame, focus, follow up
Don’t just show a video. Follow these guidelines from WNET for using video in the classroom.
- Frame: Provide a context that helps viewers pay attention to the main content of the media. Ask questions about the topic explored in the media to activate prior knowledge. When necessary, provide any background information they may need to fully understand the media.
- Focus: Help viewers notice the important aspects of the media by providing them with a specific focus, something to look for while they interact with the media. Without a focus for viewing, participants will notice all sorts of interesting details - but not necessarily the idea or information you want them to focus on.
- Follow-up: Provide an opportunity for viewers to summarize what they saw and did - because they will notice and experience different things, and not always what you expected! Re-telling and discussing helps consolidate understanding and remember it.
There are some ways I make my lectures and presentations more interactive. Which do you do? Are there any new ideas here you may want to try? What's missing?